Congress should put off deciding whether to adopt the Health Insurance Rate Authority Act, a state lawmaker says.
Congress has convened just one hearing on the HIRAA bill, S. 3078, and the bill would let “unelected bureaucrats… unilaterally determine the future of rate oversight,” Rep. Robert Damron, D-Frankfort, Ky., president of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., writes in a letter sent to Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.
Dodd is chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Damron also sent a copy of the letter to Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the highest-ranking Republican on the committee.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced S. 3078 in March.
The bill would give the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services some ability to review health insurance rate increases.
Members of the Senate now are thinking of adding the bill to S. 3217, the Restoring America Financial Stability Act.
“NCOIL thinks it is inappropriate to consider the bill as an 11th hour amendment to a massive and unrelated financial modernization bill,” Damron writes. “Health insurance rate increases have nothing to do with our nation’s financial crisis and should not be attached to S. 3217 simply because Senate rules allow it.”
State regulators and other state officials already have the tools they need to respond to inappropriate rate increases, and letting the HHS participate in regulating health rates would “promote inconsistency and weaken oversight of a very localized and vital service,” Damron writes.